What is the Importance of Christian Baptism?
Have you been baptized? Were you baptized as an infant?
As an adult, you may wonder what the importance is of Christian baptism.
The short answer is it is important because Jesus Christ commanded it.
We’ll spend today discussing the long answer.
Before we do, it is important to distinguish between infant baptism and believer’s baptism.
Depending on the denomination, you may have witnessed either an infant baptism or a believer’s baptism. Here at South Bay Bible Church, we believe in believer’s baptism.
The reason is simple: We believe the baptism of Jesus is a baptism of confession.
It is when the believer says, “I want the world to know I am a follower of Christ.”
You cannot do that until after you are a follower of Jesus.
In contrast, infants do not know yet what they believe.
Moreover, at South Bay Bible Church, we believe in a baptism that involves immersion rather than sprinkling or pouring water on the forehead.
This is because the word “baptize” literally means “dip under water.” The Greek word baptize literally means “to dip under” water.
Additionally, immersion is how Jesus was baptized and every other baptism in the New Testament was by immersion.
Now that we’ve clarified how our church practices baptism, let’s discuss why baptism is important.
Baptism is Important Because Jesus Did It
First, baptism is important because Jesus was baptized.
If we still consider “WWJD” as a rule to live by, this one is clear.
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.
Mark 1:9 states, “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”
Baptism is Important Because Jesus Commands It
Not only was Jesus baptized himself, but he also commanded it.
Baptism is one of only a few faith commands Jesus gave His followers.
Jesus commanded His followers to make disciples, baptize these followers, and to remember Him through communion.
Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Jesus said, ‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’”
Therefore, for Christ followers, baptism is an act of obedience – the first act of obedience.
Baptism is Important Because It Allows Us Profess Our Faith
In the New Testament, new believers were baptized as soon as they put their faith in Jesus Christ.
They were not baptized before they confessed their sins and acknowledged Jesus as their Savior.
Upon receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they were baptized. This is also how Jesus commanded it to happen.
After the church makes disciples (those who follow Jesus), then they are to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
When you are baptized, it is your public profession of faith in Christ.
While baptism does not turn you into a Christian, it does show those watching that you are one. It tells the world that you have chosen to follow and act like Jesus.
Ultimately, baptism is an outward expression of an inward change.
Baptism is Important Because It Celebrates New Life
Baptism is symbolic of our death to sin, and this is cause for celebration!
Romans 6:4 says, “By our baptism then, we were buried with Him and shared His death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead so we also may live a new life.”
Therefore, baptism is a symbol of burial and resurrection.
Baptism is a way for us to celebrate the new life of followers of Christ. At South Bay Bible Church, we celebrate. It’s one of the best services we do.
As 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Baptism is Important Because of Who Sees
Since baptism is a public acknowledgment of our faith in Jesus Christ and representative of the new Christian’s life, it gives us an opportunity to share our testimony with others.
Often, people being baptized invite friends and family members to celebrate the special occasion with them and the church.
In these instances, they have a clear opportunity to share their testimony with their loved ones who may not know Jesus yet.
Additionally, since baptism represents your new life as a Christian, it opens the door for Christian accountability.
Those believers who witnessed your baptism can help hold you accountable when you face temptations and struggles in life.
Baptism is Important But Not Required for Salvation
Lastly, baptism is important, but it is not a requirement for salvation.
Remember, baptism follows salvation according to the Bible.
However, we do know there are those who spend eternity in Heaven without having been baptized, such as the thief on the cross who Jesus declared “would be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).”
Billy Graham once said, “I believe baptism is important, and I have been baptized. But I think we violate the Scriptures when we make baptism the prime requirement for salvation … Paul’s central theme was Christ and His saving power. Although he spoke of baptism, he said: ‘I thank God that I baptized none of you … lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name’ (1 Corinthians 1:14-15). Baptism is a conclusive act of obedience and witness to the world that we are Christ’s. I believe in it wholeheartedly. […] To one who has received Christ, baptism is a necessary and meaningful experience.”